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This One is for the Boys: Men and Journaling

by Jacki Andre June 11, 2018

This One is for the Boys: Men and Journaling

Dear sparkly unicorn friends of the male gender: I hear you.

I hear that my glee in shopping for ALL THE WASHI TAPE may not evoke the same feelings of joy for you. (But if it does, highest of fives.) I also hear that bullet journaling, in particular, can be overwhelming in its artsy/scrapbooking incarnations. I hear you. I do.

History is riddled with men who kept personal journals. Riddled. As Brett and Kate McKay point out at The Art of Manliness, writing journals were kept by the likes of:

  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Charles Darwin
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Lewis and Clark
  • Andrew Carnegie
  • Winston Churchill

And yet, in 2018, men often approach the idea of journaling with trepidation. That apprehension seems to be rooted in the idea that journaling is about making pretty pages. As one Redditor says, he was initially “blown away by all the girls with fancy tape and stuff.”

That Redditor isn’t a lone wolf either. In his YouTube video, Matthew Kent expresses the same sentiments. Kent had watched other YouTube videos, hoping for bullet journaling inspiration. But, he had difficulty relating to the aesthetic that the other Youtubers presented.  He explains:

I want[ed] to get a guy’s perspective and see …somebody doing [bullet journaling] who isn’t quite filling it up with all these colors that I don’t want to fill my journal up with. And, you know, has about my artistic level because I’m not good. … I think most girls are more artsy than most guys.

Well here’s the thing, my dear sassy cats of all genders: journaling is what you want it to be. I’ve said it before and will keep saying it: Your journal is yours. You do you. No one says you HAVE TO use “fancy tape” but no one says you CAN’T.

In most cases, our personal journals are for our eyes only. And, that’s a good thing. Journals are at their most valuable when we use them as “a safe space to offload, without fear of being judged.”

Keeping a personal diary or journal has so many benefits. Stop worrying about what your journal should look like and just start writing.

Wait! Just Start Writing?

The act of journaling is introspective. And, as Clair De Boer writes, men often have some fear about introspective writing. “On the whole,” De Boer says, “men are less likely to open up emotionally amongst friends, whereas women do this often.”

It’s tempting to roll my eyes here. “Duh! This is news?” But that flippancy fades when faced with statistics. They are startling. Ollie Aplin’s stats in The Guardian are for Great Britain but are relevant nonetheless:

  • Suicide is the leading cause of death for men between the ages of 20 and 49.
  • Three times as many men as women commit suicide.
  • When feeling depressed, 67% of women and 55% of men will confide in someone.

This is exactly why you should just start writing. Personal journals provide a safe space to unload, vent, process, express emotions, and get introspective.

But What Exactly Do I Write?

Your personal diary or journal can be used for all sorts of things:

  • Keeping gratitude lists
  • Tracking goals and the steps taken towards completing them
  • Noting life or daily lessons
  • Monitoring health
  • Tracking habits
  • Budgeting
  • Scrutinizing your relationships for deeper understanding
  • Recording bucket lists, dreams, hopes, and passions

Why Bother?

Again, I hear you: the whole washi tape debacle. Getting in touch with your emotions. Lined journals vs those with blank or dotted pages. Moleskine vs. Leuchtturm vs. SohoSpark. Indexes and bullet keys. So much to consider.

Yep, it’s overwhelming. Yep, you should still do it.

As already stated, journaling is good for your mental health. That should be reason enough.

Writing down goals--be they daily tasks or bigger, bucket-list items--helps you keep your eye on the prize.

Habit trackers, which help you monitor things like your health and wellness, fitness, budgeting, screen time, and chores, can provide valuable insights. And those insights can provide the motivation you need to complete positive habits (or nix negative ones).

Doing braindumps can provide clarity as you clear your mind of extraneous thoughts.

It’s easier to remember stuff when you write it down.

As you review your journal periodically, you can get a better understanding of where you are in life, and where you want to go. Have your dreams and goals changed? Do you need to drink more water? Are you paying your bills on time?

And, finally, a journal is a terrific organizational tool. And that’s really what a bullet journal, in particular, was meant to be.

Whatever your vision for your journal is, just do it, my sparkly unicorn friends. And, yes, men: that includes you too.

Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash

Jacki Andre
Jacki Andre

Jacki Andre has been journaling for over 30 years and still has her jam-packed Judy Blume Diary to prove it. Somewhere along the way, she started writing for reals, and is now a published author and Huffington Post blogger. In her spare time, Jacki supports dog rescue, advocates for disability rights, and educates other drivers via hand gestures about the importance of using turn signals. She keeps in shape by chasing joy (and her ‘80s teen idols) in earnest.


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